Does King Kong Perpetuate Stereotypes?

Status
Not open for further replies.

blackbutterfly

Well-Known Member
#1
King Kong - Still King of the Racist Movies
a Commentary by Levy Lee Simon
December 26, 2005

I did it again. For the second time within two weeks I foolishly made an assumption about the possibility that in 2006 American society had made some effort to move past its racist nature and ideology. I was wrong again, but don't get me wrong. Growing up and living as a Black man in America, racism is never a surprise when it rears its ugly head. I can point to some element of racism on a daily basis. I could spend all of my time fighting the beast but what kind of life would I have? Therefore I have to pick my battles just to have some sense of a quality of life. That may sound cynical but I am truly an eternal optimist. I'd like to see a world where race “doesn't†matter but as Cornell West says “Race Matters.â€

The thing is, it matters to me, but for most in the so-called dominant culture, race doesn't matter at all and that is the worst kind of racism; to be ignored, to be invisible. OK, let me get to the point. On Christmas evening I went to see the latest rendition of King Kong written and directed by Hollywood bigwig Peter Jackson. I was and am fully aware of the history of racism surrounding the movie, which first came to public attention in the 1930s. Times were supposedly different back then, right off the heels of the Jim Crow Movement when racism was as open and common as apple pie on Sunday after church. Separate but equal was the status quo and Blacks were being lynched in bunches. Along comes King Kong, where white imperialist America goes to a foreign land and tames the savage beast. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like Iraq, hmmmm. But I am not going there because Kong at that time was even deeper than that. It was telling Blacks in a not so subtle metaphor that the white man is superior, the ruler of the world, and that if you even think about it any other way we will shoot you down no matter how far up the ladder of the American Dream you climb. And please don't even think about a white woman because we will come after you with a vengeance that will rival the wrath of God. That might sound a bit strong but look at what happened to Jack Johnson, the black champion who climbed to the top of white America's mental and psychological consciousness and became their worst nightmare. And, he loved white women. Striking similarities to the concept of Kong, huh? “Leave our women alone.†The thought the idea of Black and white miscegenation was and is the greatest fear of the KKK and many so-called non-racist Americans.

OK, let us fast forward. Since then, due to the Harlem Renaissance in the 30s and 40s, WWII, the integration of professional sports, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 60s and 70s, Viet Nam, life has grudgingly changed. On the face of things, today's world is vastly different from that of the 30s and 40s. Arguably, progress has been made in every aspect of American Society. Look to politics, sports and entertainment, where it is most visible. Yet, for some reason the tenor of racism remains as strong as ever and nowhere is it more evident than in Hollywood. Even though Denzel and Halle won Oscars on one dramatic night a few years ago, Black actors are still under represented and our stories, and stories of integrated relevance are rarely if ever told. It's one thing to deny a culture the opportunity of unhampered _expression but it is another to then demonize that very culture.

OK, we all know the story of King Kong, but what's so different about Peter Jackson's King Kong to warrant a $207 million budget to do it again? Well, the special effects were amazing. There was some attempt to develop the story line and character of the white female victim. The special effects were amazing! Oh, I said that already. My question is, are special effects and a flimsy attempt at developing Ann's motivation for loving the Ape enough to balance the depiction of Blacks as cannibalistic savages yet again? Let's take a look at this for a moment because some premeditated thought was put into this depiction of Blacks. If this is an imaginary island, why couldn't the savages of the island be of all races? That is, if they have to be savages. Wouldn't a story about a higher civilization be more intriguing? Hmmmm. But we know that anything that is not of Eurocentric ancestry has to be inhuman. Wasn't that the justification for conquering the world? Sounds a lot like Iraq, hmmmmm. If the location of the movie is in the Pacific, why are the inhabitants of this island African? Shouldn't they be more Polynesian? I know that Peter Jackson is from New Zealand and has had some interaction with the Aborigines of that country, so what does this say about his concept of them? Are you going to tell me that Peter Jackson was not aware of what he was doing? Why did the village of Blacks look like strung out crack and heroin addicts feining for a hit of something? Why were they cannibalistic? Wasn't that the rhetoric of the white racist of the 30s? That scene in King Kong looked like a primitive shot of downtown LA at dawn. If it wasn't done intentionally then that kind of insensitivity is unacceptable. It's unacceptable on all levels. ----- OK, Kong kills the Black women but falls so hard for the fair white maiden that he sacrifices his life for her. Ohh boy. The one noble Black character is killed off half way through. Well, that's nothing new. Hollywood is known for that. I know Evan Park and he is a good guy. I also know he got a chunk of change to play the part and I won't hate on him. But why aren't there enough roles out there for talented Black actors so that when roles like that come along, actors can have the option to turn them down or be more forward and say, “**** You, you racist bastard� That's what Peter Jackson is, a racist bastard. Later in the movie, after Kong has been brought to the Great White Way, he has Blacks on stage dressed as savages. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to scream in the movie theatre. I wanted to slap somebody. I thought Blackface was not to be tolerated. I thought I saw the last of Blackface with Ben Vareen, Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg. Why didn't somebody complain when they read Peter Jackson's script? I know there must have been someone in Hollywood who read the script and rejected those concepts, or am I being wistful again? Why didn't some scream in the promos before it was brought to the public? Again, am I expecting too much? I wish not but obviously I am.

It's almost hilarious when you examine the metaphor. King Kong is sitting on his island as the dominant being. He rules and eats Black women for lunch. (Don't we all?) But all is status quo. Then along comes the great white father and his prize possession and weapon, “the blonde bomb shell.†Now because the natives living on their island with their way of living decide to please Kong their way, the whites take offense, even though they are the invaders. Of course they capture King Kong while the natives who have lived there for centuries were too stupid to figure out a way to capture him or peacefully co-exist, unless you call sacrificial offerings co-existing. The King is brought back captured. (Slavery maybe?) The only thing that causes him enough muster to break his chains is the white woman. His own freedom did not warrant that kind of strength. He busts his chains and ends up on top of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the US. (Even to this day.) Hmmmm. Can someone say phallic? But of course he is shot down, emasculated, brutally killed. Wow! - The metaphor is clear to me.

Peter Jackson said he was obsessed with King Kong since he was a child. Peter, what is so compelling about the story? What were you really compelled by? Or did I already answer the question? The special effects were great! Oh, I said that already.

As a playwright, screenwriter and actor I know writing commentaries like this could prove detrimental to my livelihood, but how many Kong movies does it take for people to get it? I long for a world where race doesn't matter. Those that know me can attesdt to that but I cannot stand back and smile when slapped in the face. Films are one of the most powerful commication vehicles we have. What kind of message both overtly and subliminally does this movie send? King Kong is a racist movie and there is no way around it. @07 Million dollars could be put to much better use. It definitely should not be spent on creating negative images of people of color by keeping stereo types alive. It's evil, and if you can't see that then you are a racist. I am not invisible and neither are 4 billion people of color on this planet. But, the special effects were great! Oh did I say that already?

Levy Lee Simon
 

gogetter

Liya kebede...gorgeous
#3
am i the only one who doesnt think everything has to do with race??..I agree with okey cos if u will always find something that looks racist if thats all u are looking for!!
 

Okestra007

Mr. Lover Man
#5
gogetter said:
am i the only one who doesnt think everything has to do with race??..I agree with okey cos if u will always find something that looks racist if thats all u are looking for!!
Got that right!
 
#9
I can't remember but I remember someone my aunts old boyfriend told us that the original King Kong was made as an insult to a political leader of Congo. That's why he didn't let us watch King Kong or Tarzan when we were around. That was when I was younger so I can't remember exactly. I do remember watching King Kong and noticing the whole black male sex object etc. lusting after the white women etc. and Tarzan I started noticing racial overtones at 12 or 13, I think even before that.
 

Obariba

Well-Known Member
#10
Thank God Im Nigerian...I can go into a movie theatre and be entertained without having t to overanlyse if its racist, sexist or whatever !
 

kaymax

Well-Known Member
#12
If the movie is a 'remake', then would that not justify the 'seemingly racist nature' if the original was indeed deemed to be racist? I'm not sure that I know where the man is coming from? Would it still be a 'remake' if these things were changed? Just my 2 Kobo..
 

vince

Well-Known Member
#13
Not as racist in content as "The Unbreakable".White race (Bruce Willis)very strong,black race(Samuel L Jackson) fragile like china pot.
 

kaymax

Well-Known Member
#14
vince said:
Not as racist in content as "The Unbreakable".White race (Bruce Willis)very strong,black race(Samuel L Jackson) fragile like china pot.

Oh where do you all get these things, Bruce was Sam's nemesis, that's all. They were both powerful in their own right. LOL, haba!!!! Pretty soon, folks will be saying Lord of the rings, twin towers' was racist since the army of the bad guy were 'black' monsters!!! gimme a break guys!!!
 

Ayesha

InaAni - Classic Beauty
#15
King Kong is just a movie.. ah ah.. why the analysis.. there are other things to analyze like, "Why is OBJ seeking a third term", or why did the mumu governors decide to endorse him..
 
#16
kaymax said:
Oh where do you all get these things, Bruce was Sam's nemesis, that's all. They were both powerful in their own right. LOL, haba!!!! Pretty soon, folks will be saying Lord of the rings, twin towers' was racist since the army of the bad guy were 'black' monsters!!! gimme a break guys!!!
Actually there are discussions on Lord of the Rings being racist, the author etc. (which I mean J. R. T. came from a time when racism was a second thought.)
 
#17
Ayesha said:
King Kong is just a movie.. ah ah.. why the analysis.. there are other things to analyze like, "Why is OBJ seeking a third term", or why did the mumu governors decide to endorse him..
But then you have to think that youth are seeing these movies and can be influenced by them either good or bad.
 

Ayesha

InaAni - Classic Beauty
#18
TVwriter23 said:
But then you have to think that youth are seeing these movies and can be influenced by them either good or bad.

How.. its fiction.. ah ah.A story set in old time NY and people getting on the boat to go to an untapped island to film and run into people (ok they may have looked black but then I did not even notice color until I read this post).. and then they never show the people again and they show King Kong.. and bla bla bla..No one should get ideas.. kids are very innocent and its adults that put that racist bull crap in their minds.. if you dont see color believe me you will watch the movie without thinking anything of it.. Dont buy into the hype... King Kong is just FICTION
 

kaymax

Well-Known Member
#19
TVwriter23 said:
Actually there are discussions on Lord of the Rings being racist, the author etc. (which I mean J. R. T. came from a time when racism was a second thought.)

HUH? you gotta be kidding me! if that's the case, then Just about every movie can be racist.
 

Ayesha

InaAni - Classic Beauty
#20
kaymax said:
HUH? you gotta be kidding me! if that's the case, then Just about every movie can be racist.

I know... Maybe someone should define Racism in the context of all the movies they are naming ..

BTW Kaymax how was Christmas?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top